by J R Arranguez Jr.
Austin Macauley

"It made her believe my father was alive and so, she kept on waiting for his return and I had learned to wait for the coming of a father I never had seen."

This is the story of a Filipino woman and her daughter, told from the girl's perspective as she experiences life growing up in her mother's family. Her father was a soldier in Vietnam and is presumed dead. Both mother and daughter bear a societal stigma as the mother was unmarried when she gave birth to her daughter. The situation forms a unique bond between them. However, the mother is very rigid in the social, religious, and behavioral expectations that she has for her daughter.

Arranguez writes beautifully about day-to-day life in the Philippines during the mid-twentieth century. The details evoke a culture that is rich and as diverse as people's mindsets. For example, although they are practicing Catholics, the two visit a medium to try to contact the girl's missing father. The book is richly detailed in its portrayal of Filipino culture of the time period as well as in its examination of a well-to-do family that faces changes during the many decades they weather. Although the family is obviously affected by the situation of a birth out of wedlock, the author effectively shows how the bonds remain.

This is a tale about how people who love their homes and families must adjust to changing circumstances. And as an undercurrent, there is always the question of whether or not the father is still alive and, if so, why he hasn't returned. Although the woman was abandoned by her lover when he was obliged to go to war, and she has an official letter describing his death, neither she nor her daughter is completely convinced that he is not alive. After many years, circumstances reveal the truth. The physical and social environments of the Philippines come to life beautifully via the author's pen.

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